A new comedy by John Goldsmith has come to fruition in the form of The Throne this summer. Taking place in 2002, at the time of the Queen's Golden Jubilee, Her Majesty is due to have a royal visit to Dudley Goring Comprehensive School, where they seem to have pulled out all the stops in their assembly hall... including providing a specially installed toilet for the occasion.
In preparation for the visit, Headteacher, Peter Carr (Michael Joel Bartelle) confronts Head of Science, Derek Jones (played by Charlie Condou) about his lax attitude, particularly as her appearance is to commemorate the opening of a new block for his department. Without a suit and tie- the subject of an impassioned argument- his wanderings in unauthorised areas before the event raises suspicions about why the door was unlocked in the first place- perhaps the mysterious figure?
Once in the very unfortunate situation of being trapped in the toilet block with the Head of State while under bomb threat, some interesting conversations arise. As the situation progresses, and got more fraught, deeper opinions are voiced, and while mostly meant in jest, several actually make you think about your own personal standings on things; politics, the monarchy, the education system and beyond. With mention to many stories across her time in the role, alongside experiences of Derek's home life and as a teacher, the pair begin to share their true personalities, and beliefs about society at the time.
From her entrance, Mary Roscoe has an outstanding performance as the Queen. Her calm and collected persona resembled just how you'd imagine the Royal to act in the bizarre scenario, while wearing an olive green ensemble, designed by Gregor Donnelly, along with the set. In contrast, Charlie Condou's portrayal of Derek posed as the ideal balance for the duo. Causing himself complete panic, he was the disorganised and outspoken one when thrown into disarray. Somehow, they became friendly, though this resulted in the clashes not feeling particularly genuine.
Through no fault of the acting, the piece overall felt like it lacked some dynamic. With the main plot relying on the conversations of the two, it is undoubtably difficult to keep it going with vigour throughout, and there were areas where the slow movement of the story, due to all events taking place in the same space, caused a little stagnation at points. Although additionally there was maybe more laughs that could've been had, the comedic timing was well-executed, and between them, the perfected mannerism of the double act solidify the performance.
In all, The Throne, directed by Anthony Biggs, didn't quite live up to expectations, but was a bit of fun. What should one say if you were stuck in a portaloo with one of the most well-renowned global figureheads, the Queen herself, anyway?